Saturday, 17 June 2017

D e l u s i o n a l


Everything that is part of this current fallen world system - satisfying merely immediate desires, becoming obsessed by the immediate, filled with pride about ourselves - is not from God our Father, but purely from ourselves and that broken system, and as such, it is all temporary and passing away, but what truly pleases God (knowing and living the truth) lasts forever.  John's first letter (2:15-17. Expanded).

This week saw a great tragedy in the city of London.
Not an act of terrorism, or some heinous crime, but the horrifying deaths of many through the rapid and, as yet, unexplained, engulfing of a tower block by fire.

Concerns have already been raised about factors which may have contributed to this - recent 'environmental' changes to the building, confusing safety procedures, lack of sprinklers - all of this may have played a part, but the reality at the end of the day is that these people were not saved by either the infrastructure or the brave attempts that were made to rescue them.

Something either was or went seriously wrong.

Is the same true for us?

We probably don't live in a similar situation, but there are plenty of everyday examples when straightforward accidents happen because of either assumption or neglect which then result in unavoidable consequences. In my own job, we were informed not so long ago of two employees who died because of such circumstances.

We so easily revert to "OK" mode, especially when our surroundings are comfortable and familiar, but the truth is there are dangers present all the time.

What is true materially is doubly true spiritually.
We act on presumptions about ourselves and the universe that are flawed... and murdering us in the process.

The modern delusion is that science tells us who and what we are, but as I was reminded recently, there's been a whole bunch of pseudo-science materials generated recently that, because they've sounded credible, have been accepted and reviewed as science, when they've deliberately been total bunk.

Some of us are old enough to recall the Piltdown man fraud (which was then defined as a missing link in the evolutionary development of man), but what most are currently not aware of is that finds in this field over recent times have absolutely demolished the evolutionary tree essential to Darwin's theory.

Just last week, a friend of mine posted this on Face book:



Sounds like a really convincing argument, doesn't it?
Well, that was until I replied with a whole load of examples of when science itself - from the discovery of meteorites, to the first steps in manned space flight - rejected such progress as totally unscientific (See Richard Milton's fascinating book,  Forbidden Science, for the true history of this overlooked reality).

We continue to believe the lie.
The poison is in the water we're drinking, in spite of our being unable to see or taste it.

And the reason for our being so trapped is simple. John nails it in his letter when he speaks about us being people entangled by our desires, and those being fulfilled by what's available around us.

Our de-fault setting is to be self-referential; to believe that our understanding is giving us a true reading when it comes to who we are and what's really going on, but it can't deliver this because there's something in the way...  Pride. Our pride won't allow us to take in what's really happening here and to us. It tells us that it's all good, that we're getting the most out of things, but it doesn't see the holes in front of us, doesn't want to take on board that what's installed into our world-view has left us without the safety gear to make it through the emergency we all face - when that self-confidence goes, and we're left  with the sobering reality of our own corruption and approaching end.

We know there's more.
Every time we look another person in the eye or ourselves in a mirror, we're confronted with an image that says "goodness, what are you?", but we suppress or re-direct such thoughts into zones which are manageable - not disquieting.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is unequivocal.
You and I were made by a God who loves us and this world.
You and I can be defined by that love by trusting in the love He has given to us and that world through His beloved Son, Jesus,
or we can perish without it - not by ceasing to be, but by spending eternity wrapped in the darkness of our own conceits, our own incarceration (See John's gospel chapter 3).

The truth stands before us, stark and unchanged.
The life and death of Jesus is history, not myth*

Are we going to be ready, in the light of such truth?

* Lee Strobel's recent film, The Case for Christ, looks at this in detail.








Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Down with discouragement!

"At present, so much of this seems hard, but it will yield a much richer fruit - righteousness,
so lift up those drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, so that full healing can be the way before you".
Hebrews 12: 11 & 12.



You know what it's like... You're working hard, and usually alone, to finish some really awkward job, and an 'expert' turns up and proceeds to tell you you're doing it all wrong, which is bad enough, but they then proceed to explain to you, at length, how they would do/ have done it.

Funny how those people always appear at that moment, and the 'help' they give usually isn't that helpful - Stevie Wonder's "He's Mr Know it All' often starts playing in my head about then.

Nehemiah had similar, but far bigger, troubles.

Jerusalem in his day was a rubbish tip - little more than piles of rubble and had been for a long time, but now, the exiles had come back, and they set about working hard to find stones so they could re-build the old walls and start the long process of renewing this city once more.

The problem was, the 'new' locals had plenty of advice, as they wanted things to stay just as they were. They were organizing to teach these unwanted meddlers a lesson.

The burdens - foreign and domestic - were just too great.
We can look at our present circumstances in exactly the same way, and often that's a fair assessment -
We sigh, we groan, and we feel that there has to be a way our of here.

Nehemiah, however, was able to press on, and encourage his fellow company to do likewise - because he had a far bigger picture than the rubbish heaps or the folly of his enemies.
He knew Jerusalem had once been the jewel of the world, and that in spite of present troubles, its greatest 'day' was still ahead, for behind the idea of this place was an even bigger reality, and that was going to bring a moment the world would never forget.

The only way forward was to actually get the job done, so these folks re-doubled their efforts, focused on the task whilst keeping a watchful eye for intruders.

Slowly but surely, in spite of all the meddling by others, the walls rose, the temple was restored, and the people turned afresh to God. The preparations, as it were, for something much better were back in place.

We can often be in exactly the same place as those unwanted exiles.
We look at the day to day of living out our faith, and it seems that all we're doing is bending and scraping to place a few old burnt stones in a pile, but occasionally, God allows us to look around and see how that connects to what else is going on around us, and then, perhaps, like Nehemiah, we catch a glimpse of the far bigger picture - that all of this is to make ready for the great day that's fast approaching.

Discouragement can be so destructive, so next time things are hard, don't listen to those who are telling you how bad you're doing - the walls are rising, and the new city is on the way, so just keep pressing on, running the race... Because of what happened outside a city wall on a cross, a new world is going to replace the old, whatever the critics say.